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This is Europe’s most LGBT+-friendly country

Mediterranean favourite has topped the list seven years running

Lucy Thackray
Tuesday 17 May 2022 14:53 BST
Rainbow nation: Malta’s Marsaxlokk Fishing Village
Rainbow nation: Malta’s Marsaxlokk Fishing Village (Getty Images)

Europe’s most and least LGBT+-friendly countries have been revealed in a new list, with the top-ranking nation taking the top spot for the seventh year in a row.

According to the latest “Rainbow Europe” report - which is published each year by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans & Intersex Association (ILGA) - Malta is the most LGBT-friendly country on the continent.

Based on the ILGA’s analysis of laws and policies in 49 countries - examining everything from hate crime and hate speech to legal gender recognition - Malta received a score of 92 out of 100, with the next most accepting nation (Denmark) only scoring 73.

Denmark, Belgium, Norway and Luxembourg completed the top five most LGBT-friendly countries, with Sweden, France, Montenegro, Iceland and Portugal rounding out the top 10.

The UK came in at number 14, while Turkey, Poland, Russia, Romania and Monaco all appeared in the bottom 10, signifying the least accepting countries.

Azerbaijan came at the very bottom of the list, with a score of just two out of 100.

While homosexuality is not illegal in Azerbaijan, gay marriage and gay adoption are banned, conversion therapy is legal and there are no protections against employment or housing discrimination for LGBT+ people.

Homosexuality is also legal in Turkey, but it has become more religiously conservative in recent years, with legislation around “offenses against public morality” sometimes used in regards to LGBT+ people.

Italy came surprisingly low at number 33, with a score of 24 out of 100, while Hungary - which recently proposed banning material which it says “encourages gender change or homosexuality” in schools - came in at number 30 with a score of 29.

Denmark had risen seven places in the list since last year, a move which the ILGA says was “mainly fuelled by the amendments to its hate crime and equal treatment legislations”.

Meanwhile, the UK suffered the most dramatic drop in its score, year on year.

The IGLA said the drop in 11 points was caused by “evidence brought forward this year that the equality body is not, as set out in its mandate, effectively protecting on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity”.

It also noted: “This comes at a time of widespread political and media anti-trans sentiment, while the British government is not moving on long-promised reforms on gender recognition and banning so-called ‘conversion therapy’ for all.”

In contrast, the organisation said: “France improved its implementation of the equality action plan, passed a ban on conversion therapies, lifted bans on blood donation, and adopted a law on medically assisted insemination”, while “Greece also lifted bans on blood donations and adopted a new equality action plan.”

Calum McSwiggan, creator of YouTube channel EatGayLove says: “Checking whether your very existence is considered illegal in a destination is the reality for LGBT+ people - in many cases it’s a matter of safety, especially for trans people and those travelling as part of a same sex couple.

“It’s also important to realise that a country’s laws and the attitudes of the people who live there don’t always match up. In some countries, being LGBT+ may be criminalised even though the people are incredibly accepting, and in others, the opposite could be true.

“Malta is one of those surprisingly rare countries where those two things match up. LGBT+ people are accepted in the eyes of the law and the eyes of the people, and that’s why it will always be one of my favourite places to visit.”

The top 10 most LGBT+-friendly countries in Europe:

  1. Malta
  2. Denmark
  3. Belgium
  4. Norway
  5. Luxembourg
  6. Sweden
  7. France
  8. Montenegro
  9. Iceland
  10. Portugal

The 10 least LGBT+-friendly countries in Europe:

49. Azerbaijan

48. Turkey

47. Armenia

46. Russia

45. Belarus

44. Poland

43. Monaco

42. San Marino

41. Romania

40. Bulgaria

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